The Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, the state task force on Special Offences and the police on Saturday seized 30 tonnes of poisonous cowhide ponmo worth N10m following a raid on a cowhide processing factory at College Road in the Igando area of the state.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Oluwatoyin Suarau, said this in a statement on Monday.
He said six suspects were arrested during the raid, which was made possible by a tip-off by some members of the public, who were suspicious of activities in the factory due to the emission of toxic smoke and offensive odour from its premises.
Suarau said the suspects were now in police custody to help with investigations and would be prosecuted in accordance with the law.
During the raid, he said bonfire made with Jamaican rubber, which was also confiscated, in the processing of the ponmo emitted thick clouds of toxic smoke which spread within the complex and adjoining neighbourhood, noting that the smoke was harmful to the residents’ health.
Consequently, he said the Ministry of Agriculture had set up a monitoring and investigative committee to look into the alleged sale of the poisonous ponmo in the state.
He said the committee, headed by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr Olayiwole Onasanya, would investigate how the poisonous ponmo got into the market, as well as dislodge factories and abattoirs producing them.
Suarau said the committee would work with relevant government agencies to “fish out any other illegal ponmo processing factories and abattoirs whose activities pose great danger to the public.”
The commissioner appealed to relevant Federal Government agencies in charge of border patrol to step up their game in preventing the entry of poisonous foods into Nigeria.
He also called on members of the public to be vigilant and report any suspected activities and sale of unwholesome food products to the nearest local government office or the Ministry of Agriculture.
Suarau said, “We will always monitor the whole process of food handling and distribution until it gets to the final consumers,” he said.